A few questions about home bread making machines
A few questions about those bread-making machines you could (still can?) buy for home use:
1. Does anyone still use them? I know they were a fad some time ago but I never hear about them anymore. I don't know ANYONE who bothers. Did people finally wake up to the fact that bread is just a commodity and you may as well just buy it at the grocery store?
2. I remember this old rumor, that in Canada all-purpose flour worked in bread making machines but in the US all-purpose flour didn't work. In the US you needed to buy sprecial bread making flour to get your bread making machine to work. Presumably because US all purpose flour is crappy compared with Canadian and doesn't have enough gluten in it (or something). Is that true?
Thanks everyone in advance for responding!
I am Canadian, I do use my bread machine all the time, well my partner does. We no longer buy bread from the store including rolls, buns, pizza dough or pasta.
We use regular flour and bread machine yeast. We have never had a problem unless it was a silly quantity error. But one mistake lead us to the fact that it makes pretty darn good pasta if you roll it and cut it by hand.
A decent loaf of french or grainy bread costs around $2.90-$3.90 and easily up to $5 for artisianal type bread. The basic loaf costs under $.50 to make...50 cents.
It takes less than 5 minutes to put it in the machine...check once....and come back 3 hours later to warm bread.
Our one problem was..well... bread abuse...we had to make a pact this spring to only make 1 loaf/dough/crust every three days...cuz well you can balloon right up!
We are not very adventurous with the machine...one good white loaf...one good multi grain, a great pizza dough..and our pasta recipe. We do take the dough out and make a nice foccacia style loaf with olives and rosemary or parm and pepper for parties.
Couldn't afford to not use it now.
Just speaking for myself, I recently replaced the National bread making machine that I used for over 30 years with a new Zojirushi. Of course, I haven't baked in the machine since the National was new. The secret is the same as for any good homemade bread: use a pre-ferment (which you can make in the bread machine), long slow rise and use the "dough" cycle then shape and bake by hand.
I have no idea what the business of American v Canadian all-purpose flour is. I have lived and baked in the US and Canada. I will concede that there may be technical differences. But I never noticed any in any practical sense. And I use American all-purpose flour in my bread making machine for soft doughs like babka all the time. No problems to report with it.
As for just buying bread at a store, go ahead! You can get very nice bread these days if you're willing to pay top dollar for them. They're still not the equivalent of taking hot, crusty bread from your own oven but maybe that's not important to you. Comparing homemade bread to ordinary grocery store bread is just plain ridiculous. No comparison!